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Hannah Penn, the proprietress of Pennsylvania and wife of William Penn, will be portrayed by New Castle, Del.’s own Jean Norvell in the living-history program “The Amazing Hannah Penn” that will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. NOTE: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the program will not be conducted in front of a live audience but will instead be streamed live, via Zoom, from the New Castle Court House Museum.
“The Amazing Hannah Penn” is free and open to its first 100 registrants. Viewers MUST REGISTER for the program by going to the following sign-up link.
In “The Amazing Hannah Penn,” Norvell, dressed in period clothing, takes on the persona of the 17th century trailblazer, remaining in character throughout the program in which Hannah tells the story of her own and William’s childhood and her marriage, at age 25, to the 51-year-old icon of the Quaker faith. She recounts her life as ‘the second wife,’ tells of uncooperative and stubborn stepchildren and of the Penns’ mounting debt. When William died, she became the proprietress of Pennsylvania and needed all her business skills to govern the province and pay down its debt. She succeeded, governing her province for eight years from England. At her death, the Penns and Pennsylvania were completely debt free.
Jean Norvell was born in London, England and educated at London University with a major in English and a minor in theology. An Air Force wife, she travelled the world with her husband and during one three-year assignment in Japan studied garment design and pattern making. Prior to retirement, she worked in product development for W.L. Gore & Associates and earned several patents for her inventions. At one time, she lived in a New Castle 1682 circa house reputed to be the home where William Penn spent his first night in New Castle.
Constructed in 1732, the New Castle Court House is one of the oldest active court buildings in the United States and was Delaware’s first state capitol. Here, the Colonial Assembly passed the 1776 Separation Resolution creating the Delaware State. During its nearly 300 years of history, this National Historic Landmark has played pivotal roles in the political, social and commercial life of both New Castle and Delaware. The museum is administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs and is a partner site in the First State National Historical Park.